By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
I gained a greater appreciation for my mom and the upbringing she provided this week. It wasn’t from anything she did for me this week it came from an experience that showed me just how blessed I’ve been compared to some youngsters growing up today.
I had the opportunity Thursday to take a mock tour of our county’s foster child system in an awareness seminar sponsored by local Children, Youth and Families Department officials. We started at 9 a.m. and spent all morning following the journey of a foster child through the system, much of it done in role-play by CYFD investigators.
Working in journalism, I was aware of the various parts and pieces of the system meant to protect the children in our community, but experiencing all of it at one time was sobering. The program was designed to put you in the shoes of the child. I’m thankful I never had to walk in those shoes and my heart breaks for those little ones stuck in bad situations.
I didn’t get to choose my mother and neither did the little tikes caught up in our foster system. If I could choose another mother I certainly wouldn’t and most of these youngsters probably wouldn’t either. They would probably just wish their mommy was better. That she would stop using drugs, stop bringing bad influences into the home, not lose her temper and them and provide a hot meal at least once a day.
Most of all these kids would just like mommy to be there to hold them. Be there with praise when they deserve it and be there with firm, thoughtful discipline when they’re messing up.
My mom was busy and life wasn’t always fair to her, but she pro ided that holding, praise and discipline to all three of her children. She’s even extended those arms to a lot of children who weren’t her own over the years. I love her for that example and wish I lived it as well myself.
The solutions for dealing with bad mothers are inadequate. The court system often isn’t the answer, drug rehab can turn a person around but it doesn’t always fix everything. Social programs aim to make things better but red tape where a child’s life is concerned is maddening for everyone.
The best solution, it seems, is a mother’s love. Those who know a young mother who isn’t getting it right should take that person under their wing and show them how to love their kids. If that person didn’t get that love themselves it may need to be instilled. If that person has had problems with substance abuse, relationships or finances, the love for her children is likely there but just can’t find its way to the surface. A little love and kindness from you could get it bubbling again.
Lastly, foster families are unfortunately a necessity to protect and provide for the children and we don’t have enough of them in our county. The job of taking a child into your home, with the knowledge that they’ll only be there for awhile is tough. But then so are the lives they’re living now. Think about becoming a foster parent if you have been blessed with the abilities and the circumstances to help.
Unfortunately, not every child in our community has a good mom this Mother’s Day, but hopefully a mother’s love and our love for mothers won’t have any boundaries.